Venice residents file lawsuit against City, County for failing to enforce no-camping rules

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The Venice Stakeholders Association has filed a lawsuit over illegal camping at Venice Beach. Photo courtesy Venice Stakeholders Association

A residents group today filed a lawsuit against the city and county of Los Angeles, alleging public officials have allowed dangerous conditions and nuisance problems to continue in Venice by failing to enforce no-camping rules on the beach and boardwalk.

“It has long been evident that the city and county enforce ‘no camping’ laws in all of their parks, except the Venice Beach Recreation Area,” Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said.

He added that as reflected by the “pristine condition of the park next to City Hall or Grand Park next to the Hall of Administration,” the Venice Beach Recreation Area has been getting “unequal treatment’ from city and county officials.

The City Attorney’s Office and the county officials did not immediately provide a response to the lawsuit, which was also filed by Venice residents and property owners Gary Harris, Jack Hoffmann, Arthur Kraus, David Krintzman and Brad Neal.

However, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and City Councilman Mike Bonin — who represents the area — were in Venice Wednesday to discuss the situation with local residents and property owners.

The Venice Stakeholders Association has filed a lawsuit over illegal camping at Venice Beach. Photo courtesy Venice Stakeholders Association
The Venice Stakeholders Association has filed a lawsuit over illegal camping at Venice Beach. Photo courtesy Venice Stakeholders Association

The plaintiffs contend that during the past five years, “on almost a daily basis,” the city and county “have failed to control and maintain” the Venice Boardwalk and surrounding areas by allowing “transients and other individuals” to bring baggage, camping gear and personal belongings to the area at “all hours of the day and night.”

“Venice residents, as well as visitors, are precluded from enjoying a stroll along the boardwalk, from walking their dog along the boardwalk or on the adjoining grass areas, or from sitting quietly under the pagodas or on the benches by the skate park, for fear of the danger presented by the constant presence of mentally ill and/or drug or alcohol-addicted individuals,” their lawsuit said.

Attorney Rob Glushon said state law requires property owners to keep their property in a condition that does not cause harm to others.

“Both the city and county need to take action to abate the intolerable conditions at Venice Beach, which are a serious threat to public health and safety,” Glushon said.

Ryavec said the recreation area at Venice Beach resembles a “lawless Skid Row encampment” where “open drug sales and use, loud late-night noise, and public inebriation, urination and defecation is routinely permitted,” but public officials have not responded to the group’s demand to clean up the area.

“The lack of enforcement of existing laws makes the hundreds of campers living along Venice Beach feel they can do anything they want with impunity,” he said. “The result is that harassment, intimidation, trespass, vandalism, home invasions and burglaries are common.”

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